A trip down memory lane

Chennai has changed a lot over the years, both physically and culturally. Since culture is something amorphous, let us leave that aside and look at the physical changes that have taken place. From the LIC being the only “skyscraper” until a decade or so back, we now have a plethora of tall buildings everywhere although the picture is still not one of a Manhattan or a Nariman Point skyline. Probably we will never have a “downtown” Chennai in the sense of a chock-a-block of brick and concrete.

Triplicane being my back yard and Mylapore my front, I can say I am bang in the middle of the two most important localities in Chennai from historical and cultural perspectives and the changes I have seen in and around my area are reflective of the broader changes happening in the city. In every city, we all know of some places that we used to visit and which are now gone and which only exist in our memories. In my case, some of the places/businesses that I have visited in the past but which either don’t exist at all or have been modernized or have been renamed now are:

1. Yogalakshmi Kalyana Mandapam on Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, near the Getit Yellow Pages.
2. Sree Visalam Photo Studio on Lloyds Road which was run by a relative of my collegemate and whom I came to know when he joined our group during one of my Sabarimalai trips in the early nineties.
3. Odeon theater (which is now Melody) where I watched Moonraker with my cousin (on General Patters Road).
4. Midland theater – again on G.P. Road (I am somehow never able to say Jayaprada when giving directions to the autokaaran) and its smaller version Leo (which had similar seating capacity of a modern multiplex).
5. The older Ehrlich Laboratory which was a typical old-style Madras house in Balaji Nagar before the current high-rise.
6. Kendriya Vidyalaya on Royappettah High Road where I studied in the 3rd and 4th standard (before it shifted to Gill Nagar) and in whose place we now have the Adarsh school (where I did not study :-)).
7. Rex Fashions in Luz – the small shop where the brothers Ramesh and Girish, whom I know for more than a couple of decades now, started their business with the same “Hi boss” greeting that has endeared them to many.
8. Vani Tailors on the left side of V.M. Street beyond Dr. R.K.Salai going towards Mylapore (currently Info-Drive), where I used to get my clothes stitched (before I started buying into the “readymade” trend that started sweeping the city with the arrival of shops like Rex Fashions above).
9. Standard Chartered Bank on Royappettah High Road in an old house with lots of parking in the front, which is now the Raja Towers apartment complex, before they shifted to Rajarajeswari Towers on R.K.Salai.
10. Gupta’s Ajanta Hotel on R.H. Road, where I have had many a tiffin, which is now the Days Inn hotel.
11. The Indian Officers Association building with its big campus that gave way to the current shopping complex housing Vitan Supermarket and assorted shops at the junction of Lloyds Road and R.H.Road.
12. Tata Consultancy Services both on Lloyds Road (beyond DAV school), where my brother used to work in 1990 and on Bishop Wallers Avenue leading into CIT Colony, Mylapore, where my junior did his summer internship and later joined.

And lots more, as I am sure each of you have a list too. Memories, memories – the older we grow, I guess that is all we have left and when you have to turn back to look at the peak, you know it is all downhill from there :-).

6 Comments so far

  1. Jaya (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

    I used to live in the Royappettah area before and its defining landmark was always the Ajanta hotel.

  2. panampalli (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 6:41 am

    Ah!! those palatial houses in Gandhi nagar (Adayar). In most countries they would have been heritage listed.

  3. Nilu (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

    I want this author banished from this blog. If possible, from the city. Tell me where I sign.

  4. thennavan (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

    True Jaya. A lot of old-timers miss it.

    Panampalli – and the sad fact is that they are being pulled down and/or “modernized”.

    LOL “:-)”!

  5. Mahesh Ramamurthy (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 9:20 am

    I too miss those large houses in Gandhi Nagar. Studied there from 1st Std till 10th in St Michaels and then did plus-two at Patrick’s.

    Those houses were often with multitude of trees, especially mango and gooseberry. Used to enjoy these during season.

  6. Akash (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 3:57 am

    I lived in Triplicane in the sixties and early seventies. There used to be a mess called “sydoji mess” since it was situated in sydoji lane. Most bachelors remained one since the taste of pure madras veg food here was unbeatable….bachelors waiting in a big queue for meals…this was run by 2 brothers…anyone any idea what happened to this mess?

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